If the rumors are true, presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will soon announce that Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) will be his running mate.
Trump has made changes to the country’s trade policies one of the most consistent themes of his candidacy. He’s constantly railed against existing trade deals that he says have cost the country jobs and need to be renegotiated. He’s promised to slap huge tariffs on imports from other countries in the name of boosting industry here at home. And he’s specifically called out China, accusing it of unfairly manipulating its own currency to make its goods cheaper and undercut other countries like the U.S.
Pence, on the other hand, has consistently supported freer trade. As Jim Tankersley at the Washington Post has pointed out, if a trade deal came before him during his time in Congress, Pence voted in favor of it.
Pence voted in favor of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), an extension of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to Central American countries — NAFTA being a trade deal Trump has specifically called a “disaster” and promised to rip up. He also voted in favor of free trade agreements with Chile, Colombia, Korea, Oman, Panama, Peru, and Singapore, in support of permanent normal trade relations with China, and against approval to have the U.S. withdraw from the World Trade Organization.
As governor, Pence has offered his support for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that President Obama has been trying to get approved in Congress, but which Trump has called a “horrible deal.” And in voicing his support, Pence wrote that he wanted to see reduced tariffs and trade barriers “so that Indiana businesses can enjoy increased market access.” Trump’s proposals could, experts have warned, spark a trade war in which other countries impose higher tariffs on American goods.
Trade means jobs, but trade also means security. The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the Trans Pacific Partnership
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) September 8, 2014
In short, Pence’s views about trade can be boiled down to what he said on the House floor in support of a number of free trade agreements that had just passed: “I’ve always said that free trade means jobs.”
If Pence does end up as Trump’s vice presidential pick, Pence may have to soften some of his stances or risk being in direct conflict with his running mate. It seems Trump may get his way: he’s already exerted influence over drafting of the Republican Party platform, which currently calls for “better negotiated trade agreements that put America first.”